Life after your undergraduate degree may not be as predictable as you thought. Finding work that you are truly passionate about and that makes a difference is difficult to come by. A Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) may be the next step for your career path.
One one hand, you may feel that a career in teaching the subject you studied at University may not be something that you want to do. However, on the other hand, teaching provides stable employment in a meaningful job. That might be something you are interested in.
It is important that if you do not want to teach – that you do not study a PGCE. Teaching is a calling and you have to be sure that you want to do it!
What you need know about a PGCE
If you are considering a PGCE, here is what you are going to need to know. It is a 1-2 year postgraduate course offered at various institutions. The course will provide you with the skills and qualifications to teach your studied subject in schools. The course provides students with a better understanding of teaching skills and not just on teaching the specific content. Obtaining this qualification, in addition to an undergraduate degree, allows PGCE students to become teachers. Note that the degree will need to have to be related to the school subject you would like to teach.
There are three areas you can specialise in when studying a PGCE;
PGCE Primary: Prepares you to teach children in primary school. You may only specialise in teaching a specific age group.
PGCE Secondary: Prepares you to teach high school learners.
PGCE Further/Adult Education: For individuals who want to teach in higher education institutions or adult education classes.
After completing an undergraduate degree (for example a BA, BA Dramatic Arts, BA Fine Arts, B Mus, BCom, or BSc) with the appropriate subjects, one can qualify as a high school teacher by studying a one year full-time or two year part-time PGCE at various institutions. In order to teach certain subjects, you are required to have completed specific subjects in your undergraduate degree. For example, in order to teach Drama in schools, you are required to have already completed subjects like Speech and Drama training or Dramatic Arts. In order to teach certain languages such as English or Zulu, you must also have taken those subjects in your undergraduate degree.
Depending on the chosen institution, the PGCE can be either full time or part-time and usually entails attending lectures. The content covered includes topics such as theories about how children learn and receive information. Some Universities offer courses around the theory of education as well as a methodology that expands on the ‘How’ of teaching. Practical components are also included such as school placements. School placements are when you as a student visit a school for a given period of time to teach and engage practically with the course content.
Why Study a PGCE?
Studying a PGCE can provide fantastic career opportunities for you. There is always a huge demand for teachers, both in South Africa and internationally. If you are passionate about the subject you have studied and enjoy working with young people, then this may be for you. Teaching allows you to deepen your understanding of a subject and can go beyond just teaching others. Over and above teaching, there are a variety of careers to explore within the education sector from governance, to training and academia.
There are many benefits to continuing your studies and opting for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), however many students may find completing their studies daunting and choose this as a manner in which to avoid leaving varsity and entering into the ‘real’ world. Becoming a teacher is more than just dictating from a textbook. This role has great responsibility and by following this path you will become part of shaping a young individual’s future. It is not a degree that should be taken lightly!
You can find more after school career options here!
Where and How Can You Study a PGCE?
As mentioned above, this can be done at most higher education institutions such as colleges, universities or even online if you aren’t able to physically attend classes. In South Africa, there are a few institutions that offer this qualification:
- The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)
- University of Johannesburg (UJ)
- The University of Cape Town (UCT)
- University of Kwazulu Natal (UKZN)
- Stellenbosch University (Maties)
- Embury Institute (online)
The education field is in need of quality teachers and therefore there are usually bursaries available. Your first point of call to look for a bursary for a PGCE should be in one of the following places:
Think about pursuing a PGCE!
Another year or two of studying isn’t for everyone and maybe you’d like to start working and leave the lecture halls and student life behind. For others, this may however be the key to solidifying their career path and once the year or two is up, you’ll have an additional qualification, how cool is that?
If you want to pursue a career in education through a PGCE but lack funding and can’t get a bursary. Fundi can help with that!